Other quality-of-life symptoms may also be reduced through the procedure. These include anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia and poor appetite. In some cases, acupuncture may also be used to help improve blood cell count or boost a patient's immune system response.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) has been described by cancer survivors as one of the most debilitating symptoms encountered because it affects all aspects of life, and can last for years after treatment. Several studies have shown acupuncture to have a significant effect on CRF.
Integrative Oncology is the combination of “mainstream” care and evidenced-based complimentary therapies to control cancer-related pain and symptoms [source: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Integrative Medicine]. Complementary therapies, while not given the attention that more traditional cancer therapies may receive, are perhaps equally important while undergoing treatment for certain types of cancer. Patients diagnosed with difficult to treat malignancies will often use these types of therapies in conjunction with traditional treatment options, which include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiology, to form a more comprehensive and effective treatment regimen. Among the most effective alternative therapies utilized by those diagnosed with cancer is acupuncture.
Often, the symptoms and effects of the cancer itself on the body are insignificant compared to the pain and other side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation are often fatigued, experience a lack of appetite and weight loss, and may become depressed. For cancer patients experiencing these and other side effects, acupuncture is extremely beneficial. According to the ancient theories of Chinese medicine, “qi,” or “life energy,” flows through energy channels within the body known as meridians. These channels connect the body’s internal organs, and if these meridians become “blocked,” or an individual’s qi cannot flow properly, disease will set in. Acupuncture is said to relieve blockages and restore the natural flow of qi, and ultimately restoring one’s health.